Torched Hop: A Brewery Optimized for Staying Power
I wasn't planning on writing about anything during my vacation in the south this last weekend, but I can't resist mentioning a little something after I stumbled into possibly the coolest place in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite a little bit of cheating by renting a car to get here, I am gonna count it as a Cycling Cicerone adventure. Plus if I write about this fantastic place, I can write my vacation off as a business trip. Small business goals.
By the end of this review, I hope to have conveyed why I think this place is so freaking awesome, but before I get you there I have to set the stage. A sad, depressing stage that sets low the bar for success. Monday was a slow day. Waking up on the tail end of a two day hangover after a weekend of non-stop family sponsored revelry on the beach is not the funnest part of a vacation. Getting up extra early to start the road trip from Charleston, South Carolina to Atlanta was the salty sprinkles on top. Not to miss out on Southern BBQ, we spent six hours fruitlessly searching for an adequate BBQ place only to discover that Google Maps, when desperately pressed to find restaurants in Augusta open on a Monday, thinks that Chile's serves BBQ. Chile's: tied for first with Budweiser for things people from Missouri think are neat. Things were bleak. We powered through to Atlanta on gas station pork rinds eager to hit a brewery before our flight out. Lo and behold, the Atlanta beer scene is much like it's BBQ: highly promising but apparently completely shut down on Mondays. Yelp and Google Maps are showing open brewpubs like Gordan Beirche and Bjs Brewhouse: the Olive Gardens of breweries. Combine that with Atlanta traffic, which I hear was better than normal that day, and I was spiraling into a deep depression. Enter Torched Hop.
Torched Hop: Brewpub and Brewery
Nailing it: 3/3 Eccentricity: 1/2 Intimacy: 2/2 Pinkies out: 2/2
Activities: oh god yes. Every. Possible. One... except Cornhole
Food: Full menu
Torched Hop's Yelp photos show a level of polish that tried to scare me away. it's has shiny, walled off brewery equipment separated from abundant densely packed seating in a cool looking older building. That, combined with photos of a bar fully stocked with liquor and a description that included the word "gastropub", I was starting to feel the "Old Spaghetti Factory" vibe. You know the kind of homeyness that only a high cost interior designer owned by a massive, expensive chain can create. However, on a closer inspection I should have seen the signs that my first impression was dead wrong - a website with an about section that reads "What's the quickest way to make your mom cry? Tell her you want to be a brewer" - Benjamin Franklin, an attribution I find to be highly suspect. The website is copyrighted 2016 and still bears the generic Squarespace favicon* - signs that this place is still fresh. This was a homegrown brewery that had managed to briefly disguise itself as something more sterile in it's first and only misstep.
Walk into the building and you immediately feel the old-building-stunningly-remodeled vibe. An incredible, fiery colored display of hops hangs from the ceiling, which I later found out were hand made by the brothers that opened the brewery. Merch quietly tucked in the corner has your customary array of glassware and clothing. Straight ahead is the host stand - "Please wait to be seated". I'm not saying don't do that, I'm just saying that I generally shy away from breweries that are proud of their food. "Never trust a skinny brewer" "Jack of all brewpubs, master not of brewing" "Never trust a brewer who cooks" …and so forth - all quotes by Benjamin Franklin. But right when I was starting to worry- BOOM - bar to the left. Some cozy looking tables over there were quite enticing, and to get there I had to walk past, get this, Giant Jenga AND Mario Kart N64 with all four controllers. Once you get to the bar, you can spot darts to your left, shuffle board to your right and board games stuffed in every corner. Things were clicking together, and this was before I heard they had bocce ball stuffed in downstairs. This place had everything! This is a tasting room with a brewpub attached. Most breweries go with the one-or-the-other approach, but these guys are everything at once, and they have to be - they are the only place open in all of Atlanta! Talking with the brewers, they revealed that the only reason they didn’t have Cornhole (the only missing brewery game) was "dude, we tried, but it's just too loud." Darn and blast.
And it's hard not to run into one of the owners. Their menus have the names of their top dogs, and in my few hours there I managed to run into two of them busing tables and tending bar. Photos of them building and renovating the place are next to the shuffle board tables, so you can really see the love and labor they personally put into the place. All this earns them a stellar intimacy score. Their beers are rock solid with a ton of guest taps and a full bar. You have tons of options, which plays into their "have everything" mantra. In terms of their own beer they offer the standard selection of beer with a good selection of "out there" beers which earns them a respectable average eccentricity score. They have a dizzying array of great murals and artwork. Hops hanging from the ceiling, chalk art on the walls, amazing murals, and other straight up neato touches all grant this place an air of serious fanciness. You'd never expect to run into the owners bussing tables in a place that looks this nice, but when you do you find yourself thinking "damn, these guys must have some artist friends." Two out of two pinkies out for serious fanciness.
This place nailed all my metrics. I drank there all afternoon. They have the most games of any brewery I have ever been to, quite possibly have the best art on the walls, and have the best beer I've ever had in Atlanta. This place almost made me want to add a new metric: "Stopping Power"- the number of beers you will sit down an drink before even realizing you've been there all afternoon. Some breweries are nice, you stop in for one and move one, but at this place I felt like you do when you first see the clock after a twenty minute nap accidentally turned three hours - "holy shit where did the time go?" I'd award this place the maximum score if not for the fact they were the only place open on a Monday, so they sorta won by default. If you are ever in Atlanta, hit them up.
Have you ever been here? Think I missed something? Leave it in a comment below. Like, Share, Subscribe, and find Intrigue Brewing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you can find the Cycling Cicerone in the wild, follow me for beer!
*A favicon is that little image that appears next to your website name at the top of the page - Torched Hop, if you like, I made you one you can have. It's this little guy on the left. Just download it and pop it up! ;)